"Magic Re-Dux" is actually a better moniker. Though Dallas (Matthew McConnaughey) is no longer the group's emcee --- in "XXL" that duty falls to Rome (Jada Pinkett Smith) --- the Kings of Tampa reunite for one last trip to Myrtle Beach for the 2015 Male Stripper Convention.
"Magic Mike XXL" doesn't offer much in the way of a plot, other than another opportunity for Magic Mike (Channing Tatum), Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello), Ken (Matt Bomer), Tito (Adam Rodriguez) and Tarzan (Kevin Nash) to take off their clothes and perform. Poor Tobias (Gabriel Iglasias) is bonked on the head early in to allow for the presence of Smith as the guys' savior.
Don't get me wrong --- I couldn't care less if there is a decent storyline. That is NOT why women go to see these movies. The aforementioned men all look spectacular --- and they can dance. They call themselves "male entertainers" for a reason.
Amber Heard, Elizabeth Banks and Andie MacDowell, along with Smith, add some eye candy for the male moviegoers. MacDowell, looking gorgeous as ever, stars as Nancy Davidson, a bored, uber-wealthy divorcee who doesn't have a problem handling Big Dick's big package. Oh, the things they get away with these days.
Heard is sullen and melancholy as Zoe, Magic Mike's new love interest --- that is until he gets her on stage at the convention. She is such a beautiful woman, what a waste to be in "Magic Mike XXL".
One must admit that though the screenplay by Reid Carolin is loaded with sexual innuendoes and double entendres --- not to mention the wildly suggestive dance routines --- there are no overt sex scenes. This alone is reason to like and appreciate "Magic Mike XXL".
It is apparent that these actors, Tatum especially, had a blast making "Magic Mike XXL". And the women in our audience, along with me, had a fabulous time watching it. Tatum is a hoot, as is a great deal of the script. Expect to be entertained!
Opinion: See It Now! (with your girlfriends)
Let's get right to the point: I didn't care for the original "Magic Mike" (2012), and I like this one even less. The writer for the first film, Reid Carolin, has done it again. He provides as much plot in the sequel as he did before, which is to say, not much. What hasn't changed is the incessant squealing of females in the audience every time six-pack abs make an appearance. (For the record, I did not detect any such reaction coming from Jeanne, although she may have been biting her tongue).
Let's start with the very best of "Magic Mike XXL": Elizabeth Banks. Aside from her adorableness, she is a gifted actor, having proven it comically ("The Hunger Games") and dramatically (the more recent "Love & Mercy"). As Paris, the apparent overseer of the annual male stripper competition in Myrtle Beach, she is a natural, deciding which acts go onstage, at what time. When she assigns Mike and his fellow dancers to the 10:20 p.m. slot, she makes sure they know it's a prime position.
Banks' at-ease performance is contrasted with that of Jada Pinkett Smith's Rome, the event's emcee. She sounds overly rehearsed using the mike. This gives further credence to the fact that the only person who can act from that family is Will. (This is a subtle reference to their son, Jaden, in the awful "After Earth" --- but don't get me started).
I could forgive "MMXXL" the zero-plot criticism if the film was at least diverting. But its attempt at camaraderie, as the strippers, a.k.a. "male entertainers", plot a reunion for "one last ride", rings false at every turn. It's a waste of Channing Tatum's talent, especially if you saw last year's "Foxcatcher". Ditto for Matt Bomer, so good on TV's "White Collar".
The only other redeeming aspect of this movie is Andie MacDowell (looking great at 57) as Nancy, a middle-aged, wealthy owner of a Georgia mansion. En route to Myrtle Beach, Mike and the boys show up at Nancy's place, looking for her daughter. Nancy happens to have a few of her girlfriends over, and after some polite exchanges, for some inexplicable reason, they feel it necessary to reveal their innermost sexual secrets to these total strangers, albeit handsome ones. These are cringe-inducing lines from a script full of them. Fortunately, the South Carolina-born MacDowell didn't need to put on airs to convey a convincing southern accent.
The most disappointing aspect of "MMXXL" is the utter lack of choreographed dance routines. Outside of a brief, and welcome, display by Mike early on, the purported dance routines are merely elongated lap dances replete with sexual innuendoes. Steven Soderbergh, the first director, had enough good sense to bow out of the sequel. Can't say the same for Gregory Jacobs, known mostly as an assistant director on a host of movies, although he shared an Emmy as producer for the excellent Liberace-based "Behind the Candelabra".
What this film does accomplish is it allows female moviegoers the experience of attending a male strip joint without actually going to one. And think of all the dollar bills they save. So --- If watching handsome men with perfect bodies perform suggested sex acts on obese women is appealing to you, go see "Magic Mike XXL".
Opinion: Don't Bother!